Friday, March 31, 2017

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive ~ Friday 3/31/17

I'm declaring this LUCID mattress that I bought from Amazon, excellent!  It's now been past the 48 hours that they suggested to let it "inflate" and I slept the whole night in one position without getting up!  Well, almost without getting up. Explorer woke me up at 5:22 a.m. because he wanted to play and then Princess came along and they started using the old twin mattress as a playground and to do their claws! Ugh, I have got to get rid of it, somehow!  Anyhoo, my back didn't hurt, I slept very well, and I'm now loving it.   I just need to get a bed because it's hard for me to get up from the floor, lol.

Well my Friday plans are all awry.  I had wanted to drive the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (they only open on Fridays through Sundays) but now I see there is some rain in the forecast this morning and it actually drizzled a tiny bit as I was driving my son to school so I'm undecided. If it's overcast then my pictures will look terrible and if it's raining then I won't take any pictures at all!   I have the same problem with my backyard but at least I don't have to drive 30 minutes to get there... decisions, decisions!

On top of that, it's the last day of March so I should try to meet more goals, recap my March goals and food expenses, work on my April goals... and bake a cake because we are out of baked goods in the house. Decisions, decisions!

Greg is leaving shortly to drive to NC to go visit his daughter and her family for the weekend. I don't understand why he didn't take Monday off, it's a very long drive for just spending 24 hours there. I hope his trip goes well. His truck is getting up there in mileage and now there's the problem of the whole interstate collapsing in Atlanta!  He wasn't going to go through Atlanta but I don't think he's thought of the fact that all the truckers and other people who were going to use I-85 will now have to use another roadway altogether. So he might experience some very heavy traffic.

My daughter doesn't have classes today but I think she might have a lot of work to do for her classes.  I think I'll just stay home. Maybe I can go out tomorrow.

It's warmer this morning (69F at 6:30 a.m. versus 64F yesterday) and the AC has already been running.  Ugh. So I'm not opening the windows this morning, which makes me and the kitties sad.  If I bake anything, it's going to have to be outdoors in the electric cooker but I can't use it if it's raining since I don't have an outlet on the front porch and the back patio doesn't offer any protection.    Maybe I'll just make crepes for snack time and I'll bake outside tomorrow. Decisions, decisions!

  • Declutter the printer stand
  • Refill the self watering bins
  • Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift 
  • Take Youngest Son to get a haircut
  • Clean bathroom ceiling 
  • Clean hallway ceiling right outside the bathroom
  • Make my bed DONE
  • Earn Microsoft Rewards credits DONE
  • Input weight into WHBRHC  DONE
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time
  • Do the dishes by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER) 
  • Take one mattress and the bed to the thrift store?
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son
  • Back up external drive to its own external drive!
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Do my foot exercises 
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only) 
  • Clean upstairs litter box  
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Inventory the freezers
  • Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Schedule an outing to P.E.A.R. Park and ask them about the trees from my backyard or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared.
  • Go to airport to cash in my euros?!
  • Mend sliding door window screen - get cat resistant screening material?
  • Plant and water the tree
  • Water the pineapples
  • Add water to indoor pineapples - I think I might compost them.  I really don't want to plant them, after all, and I don't have anyone to give them to.
  • Track my and Greg's IRAs for the IRS
  • Download all February pictures from phone, Canon camera, and Panasonic camera to external drive
  • Reply to blog comments   DONE
  • Purge the dresser in the upstairs hallway
  • Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
  • File all the pending documents
  • Use brush on fridge coils
  • Schedule maintenance appointment for my SUV
  • Finalize March Food Expenses post in progress
  • Mop kitchen 
  • Vacuum living room
  • Get Youngest Son to sign up for French I on FLVS ask for start date after AP exam (May 11)  - we decided he would do this over the weekend
  • Check what classes Youngest Son requested for 10th grade and make notes DONE
  • Get change so I can give Youngest Son $5 for the McDonald's gift card
  • Renew library book? 
  • Try making yogurt in yogurt maker
  • See if can mend Youngest Son former backpack straps
  • Enter receipts into my spreadsheets
  • Bake bread in breadmaker?
  • Make crepes for snacks?
  • Print and track Greg's pay stub in my tax worksheet DONE
  • Recap March goals DONE
  • Work on April goals
  • Schedule Amex payment

  • Youngest Son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • I drove my son to school. The drop-off was less stressful this morning.

  • Our electrical bill will be high this month. I've been running the AC and this morning it was running at 6:30 a.m.!  Summer is already on its way down here.  We don't have the usual humidity yet since it's been so dry.

  • Starbucks had granted me "Gold" status last year and I think I used the benefit of getting a free coffee refill once that whole year. I very rarely go to Starbucks and now that my BFF loves the Wawa coffee, I might never go there again!  So I haven't really cared about earning more stars to maintain my Gold level. Good thing, too, because they emailed me today to plead that if I were to buy any drink or food item this weekend, they'll give me the Gold status. Well it's nice, and I like the company I guess, but I don't like their coffee and it's 20 minutes away from my house so... I guess no Gold status for me.

  • Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I decided to face the music this morning and I weighed myself: I'm back up to 221.6 so I gained a little over 4 lbs since the end of January :(  I mean, not a surprise since I haven't dieted but it's still a disappointment... in myself.  I so need to get back in the game. I do want to be healthier by 50!  That being said, I can walk much farther, my foot doesn't hurt like it used to and I wasn't the one huffing and puffing when my daughter and I went on a 9 mile bike ride.  So I am in better shape, just not much thinner.

  • My first Swagbucks Daily Goal is 30 SB, I was just awarded 12 SB for a Search Award, and the automatic videos are back in the line-up this morning... I might even make that goal today!

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

  • And I earned 20 BR points for logging in my weight into Walgreens' BRHC program.

  • Today is the last day of Free Coffee Friday with Wawa Rewards. I need to remember that if I make it into Clermont (which I don't plan on, but you never know).

  • 8:05 a.m. and it's overcast... I guess no backyard lounging for me today :(

  • I can't wait for Game of Thrones' new season to start.  Do any of you watch the show?  I found this Sesame Street parody video this morning and Greg and I were laughing.  I love Sesame Street! 

  • I gave Greg a box of protein bars and he took a 12-pack case of Diet Dr. Pepper for the road, so as to minimize snack/drink expenses :) He left a little after 9:00 a.m. and thinks he'll get there at about 7 p.m.

  • Me?  Well, I myself some chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for breakfast because why not? I'm already fat and I'm gonna miss my honey for 2 days... I needed comfort food!

  • And I turned on "Forensic Files" to distract myself. So OK, maybe I won't do many chores today!

  • I reached my (low) 1st SB Daily Goal :)

  • Our new Amex bill was emailed to me so I checked our Rewards balance again and it was up to over $100 so I ordered a new $100 CVS gift card, that I will use exclusively for groceries. Woohoo!

  • I printed Greg's new pay stub and recorded the details in my 2017 Tax spreadsheet so I fully understand what is coming in and why we're paying the taxes we're paying.  $80, representing his 2016 raise amount, were transferred directly to our "New Car" savings account.

  • I transferred $166.66 to our Emergency Savings (my goal is to add $2K in 2017 so $166.66 per month).  These are not our Catastrophic Savings, which are separate.

  • I balanced our checkbook. I like knowing how much money is in all our accounts, to the penny.

  • Staples sent me a text saying that if I texted "DANDELION" back to them and was one of the first people to do so, I would get a coupon for a free 24-pack of Crayola crayons.  I did and qualified for the freebie. Woohoo!  I will donate it.  Crayola announced that they are retiring the "Dandelion Yellow" color, hence the promotion.

  • Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had applied for summer jobs to make some money before going to college.  She got a call today from a nearby city to schedule a phone interview early next week for a summer position as a recreation aid.  So we discussed the fact that if she gets the job, chances are we won't be able to go on our trip as the camp will end right before college starts.  They said they would accommodate vacations, but our trip is scheduled for the beginning of their summer camp, that I can see.  Anyhoo, it would be nice for her to make some money as she doesn't plan on having a job during the school year.

  • I received our new AT&T bill and I'm relieved to say that my son was very good this month and didn't use much data at all, woohoo, so we won't get hit by overage fees.  We share only 2G of data but we used only 0.4G and most of it was used by me (GPS on my phone when Greg and I go hiking, and app usage when I go shopping).  For 3 lines (my son and my smart phones and a cell phone line for our "home" phone), we're paying about $118 after all fees and taxes. I could find a cheaper service but AT&T provides what we need for now so I'm not looking at changing providers.  Greg's phone is provided and the service is paid for by his job.

  • I asked my Daughter if she had anything planned for today and she didn't so I invited her to come to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive with me since it's now sunny at 11:30 p.m. so she's eating breakfast (making herself pancakes with the rest of the batter) and then we'll go together. Woohoo! And she offered to drive so I could take pictures (although I'll want to get out of the car to take the pictures), woohoo again!

  • So we left almost right away. I mentioned that I wanted to go to Aldi and get the free coffee from Wawa and she sighed and told me I was allowed TWO stops, not more :)  She drove my SUV since driving an automatic is more comfortable when you can only go 10 mph and you're asked to stop repeatedly so I can take pictures!  Also, you can see better from the road than on a lower car.

  • We did take a couple of toll roads to get there because we blindly followed the GPS, but we could have gotten there without incurring tolls, darn it, especially since my daughter was too busy chatting so she missed the exit off the 429 and we had to drive a little further than we had planned!

  • There is no entrance fee for the Wildlife Drive, woohoo!  It took us a couple of hours to drive it. We had brought water,  but forgotten to bring food and I got very hungry!  Then we had to drive another 30 minutes back to Clermont.

  • On the way, I returned a call to Greg. He was having a pleasant drive, without too much traffic, thankfully. He said the worst traffic was merging from the Florida Turnpike on to I-75, it was very backed up.  He stopped by Subway for lunch and spent about $7.00

  • We decided to go to Panera's for lunch. By then, it was 3 p.m.!  I used the remainder of the $50 gift card that I had bought back in 2016 so our lunch didn't cost me anything out of pocket.  We qualified for (2) $0.99 pastries, so I got 2 huge cinnamon rolls for Youngest Son. We made sure to get drink refills on our way out since we both got a drink (that wasn't water).

These pictures are for Bless, hahaha. She always comments on the food pictures telling me that I'm making her hungry :)
  • We ran into an old classmates (from Middle School) and volleyball partner of my daughter's. We hadn't seen her in years!  She went to a different high school in a nearby county.  She'll also be going to UF so she and my daughter made plans to meet up there.

  • After that, I took over the driving and announced that we would be making more than 2 stops because I also wanted to go to Staples :)  We ended up making 3 stops (Aldi, Wawa and Staples).

  • At Aldi, a lady approached my daughter and told her that she loved her T-shirt and that it had made her day. I had no idea what she was talking about because I don't really pay attention to what people wear, usually. Until then, I hadn't realized that she was wearing a T-shirt with "And Yet, She Persisted" printed in big letter on the front!  Gutsy of my daughter, living in a very Republican county.  I am proud of her too and ashamed that I looked at her all day and never noticed the wording.

  • I meant to get bread and a bag of navel oranges. But once we were there, I thought "wouldn't it be nice if I did all my shopping for next week and then I don't have to come back on Wednesday?!" so I grabbed a lot of things.  They ended up having the garden utility cart in stock already so I bought it.  But they didn't have the umbrella stand so now I might have to go back anyway. Arrgh!  Plus they were out of the navel oranges.  I bought asparagus and a cucumber, some snacks since we were out (including 4 boxes of protein bars so I'll have a secret stash for Greg), 2 loaves of bread and some hamburger buns, generic rice krispies for me since I'm out, a box of Red Lobster biscuit mix because my daughter had just finished telling me she loooves those biscuits, and a few other things including cat litter. All in all I spent over $80 although that included the $40 cart and about $14 in cat litter.  I charged it to Amex for 3% back in Rewards.
These are just the groceries. Crap, I forgot to get lettuce!
  • Our next stop was Wawa, where I redeemed my reward for a free 24 oz French Vanilla coffee. I put it in the fridge to drink later or tomorrow, so I grabbed 4 creamer cups and 4 packets of sweetener too.

  • Lastly, we went to Staples to redeem my coupon for the free 24-ct box of Crayola crayons. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought this through, or I would have brought with me the 3 empty ink cartridges that I meant to drop off and also looked to see what color ink I needed to stop up on.  I'll have to go back at some point.

  • Back home, the front porch looked like I had never swept it this morning. Arrrgh!

  • The kittens and Youngest Son were happy to see us!  The kids helped me unloaded everything and I put it away, and then transferred the pictures from the Wildlife Drive onto my laptop and started watching them. I was disappointed in a lot of them. With the weather being overcast most of the time, the quality of a lot of the pictures wasn't great, and also I've apparently forgotten how to focus on an animal when there is a blade of grass or a branch in the forefront because a lot of my animals ended up being fuzzy while all the blades of grass and branches looked perfect. Arrrrgh!  But I guess that saves you from having to scroll past 198 pictures :)

  • Now it's 6 p.m., I'm tired, I haven't done any chores, and I told Youngest Son that the 2 cinnamon rolls were probably his dinner because I don't plan on cooking. Well, I'm joking, I'll make him a grilled cheese sandwich... or he can have a corn dog since we have lots of them in the freezer.  Update: well I remembered that we had scalloped potatoes and ham leftovers from last night so I offered some to Youngest Son who accepted. My daughter wasn't hungry, so I had the other serving of leftovers and the 2nd half of the papaya that I had cut yesterday.

  • Greg got to his destination at about 7:20 p.m., safely. Phew! It's 55F over there so I hope he packed something else than shorts.

  • I probably won't know until Greg returns what he spent on gas, food, etc, during his trip.
  • Subway: about $7 (lunch, Greg)
  • Aldi: $85.32 ($55.66 non-grocery items, $29.66 groceries, which will be deducted from my April budget)

  • I ordered a $100 CVS gift card from our American Express Rewards program.
  • Won a coupon for a free 24-pack of Crayola crayons
  • Fed the kittens
  • Prepped Greg's breakfast
  • Drove my son to school
  • Swept the leaves off the front porch
  • Caught up on the news
  • Worked on my To Do List
  • Waved Greg goodbye (snif!)
  • Cooked myself breakfast
  • Caught up on blogs
  • Printed Greg's paystub and tracked it
  • Ordered new CVS gc
  • Transferred money to savings
  • Balanced our checkbook
  • Went to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive with Daughter
  • Took loads of pictures
  • Went to lunch with Daughter
  • Ran a few errands with Daughter
  • Unloaded the groceries
  • Transferred my pictures
  • Chatted with Youngest Son about which classes he signed up for in 10th grade
  • For my daughter agreeing to come with me to the Wildlife Drive and offering to drive
  • For my daughter being willing to sacrifice her summer to earn some money :)
  • For Greg arriving safely in NC

NATURE: Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

It was sunny when we left our house, but it was overcast and cloudy when we got to the Wildlife Drive. Rats! I'm not a great photographer and when it's overcast, I feel that my pictures are definitely not up to par.  The camera is great but not perfect, I don't have good vision with skews things too, and I need to learn more about light and various functions on the camera itself.  That being said, I got some good shots, I thought.

We didn't see anything exciting like a snake strangling a bird, or even an otter :(  I was disappointed in that last one.  We did see a snake but it was dead on the side of the road, and after we had already left the Wildlife Drive :)

It'd been several months since we'd been there, our previous trips having taken place in late May and early June last year but we saw... pretty much the same thing as last year, LOL. I like consistency so this is good :)

This is new since last year, but we didn't use it.

This Little Blue Heron had a weird red protrusion out of its neck, I'm not sure what it was!

Female Anhinga

American Coot

The weather wasn't very nice so a lot of my pictures are pretty drab!
Snowy Egret

My daughter got a kick out of its large yellow feet!

I wonder if this is a Broad-Winged Hawk?

Huuuuge gator!

Great Egret and American Coot

I want to say those are Grackles (either common or boat-tailed) but their eyes are supposed to be gold or yellow, whetras these had black eyes...

This egret was fishing and caught a small fish or snake in its beak, I couldn't really tell.

Red-winged Blackbird

Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot

Adult Mottled Duck (I think? It also looks like the female Blue-Winged Teal Duck!) with 4 youngsters

Male Anhinga

Great Blue Heron

Common Moorhen

Great Blue Heron about to take flight

Another gator!  We saw quite a bit of those today.

Another Great Blue Heron!  None of them, unfortunately, was doing anything interesting... Or maybe I need to go back without anybody else and just sit until they do!

Red-winged Blackbird about to take a drink.

Bulltongue Arrowhead


I don't know what this was!  I wonder if it could be Salt-Marsh Fleabane, aka Camphorweed.

I think this might have been Elliott Aster

Limpkin. This was the first time my daughter saw one of those. She liked it a lot.

These might have been more Elliott Asters, not sure.

This looks like Elderberry, although I don't think it is because of the leaves...  

This is an unfurled Moon Flower (or Moon Morning Glory). It opens at night.

Another one...

Some other kind of Morning Glory.

This anhinga perched on a curved dead tree was pretending to be a much larger sea dragon, don't you think?!

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Blue -Winged Teal duck pair (male on right)

And their next-door neighbors too!  Here you can see his blue wing feather.

These were peacefully looking for food through the algae and I was trying to get a good shot of them...

When this one completely photobombed my picture!  Notice the blue wings!  And I like this little fan feathers in the back. I used to have a cute little pencil skirt that had a little fan pleat like that in the back, I loved it!
Osprey, enjoying a meal of fish. It IS Friday today, after all!

Turtle butt!

This large Florida Soft-Shell Turtle scooted into the canal as soon as it saw us approach... Daughter told me it tumbled down on its back and insisted I go look.  So I did, and I didn't see it until...

It reappeared on the other side of the canal, laughing at us, I think!

Baby Common Moorhens!  They were very tiny and also trying to get away from this side of the canal at the urging of their parents that had already crossed. Alas, my picture didn't turn out as crisp as I would have liked it.

Great Egret

Another Glossy Ibis. I love its colors.

Duck butt!

My daughter really got a kick out of seeing those two American Coots chasing each other across the swamp, "walking" on water! (one Coot was hidden by my car mirror).
I think those might be Barn Swallows?!  I'm terrible at recognizing small birds.

Another osprey. This one looks kind of disheveled, no?

Water Hyacinth in bloom. Terribly invasive, but oh so pretty!

One last osprey to bid us adieu (photo taken by my daughter).
How was your Friday?  Do you ever go visit local preserves or parks just to observe nature?


  1. Nice photos! My day went well and I finished all my March progress notes. I finally got out my Easter 'stuff' and am going to set some out today. There was a time when I loved Longaberger baskets and I must have 6 Easter ones...shame on me. I still love 'em but don't buy or collect.

    1. I'm glad you had a good and productive day, Nan! I hope you have a relaxing weekend!

  2. Common moorhens are beautiful! I envy all the creatures you can find in nature.

    1. There is nothing "common" about them, is there? And they're really loud! The little chicks were so darn cute!

      I'm sure there are several preserves and parks near you where you can observe the fauna of your state... do you and your husband not like to go visit them? Or are you too busy? I'm really glad Greg and I started visiting parks, trails and preserves on the weekends. It's lovely to reconnect as a couple and share an interest. During the week, he works and play video games and I'm stuck with all the chores and household tasks. We have differing interests, opinions and tastes otherwise, it's a wonder that we love each other so much!

  3. Wow! What a great set of bird pictures. I need to find a swamp to see a greater variety of birds like that.

    1. I hope you do and post your pictures! Does your county have a Parks & Trails department? Ours conducts several hikes and nature-viewing outings a month, in all parts of the county. That might be a good starting point.

    2. I'm not sure what all our new county offers. We're still don't seem to have a lot of leisure time as we continue to get settled, but looking into the parks is definitely something we're interested in. But today, we're going to start car shopping. Repairs to my car are going to cost more than it's worth. So that along with safety issues means we need to start looking. I hate care shopping, but it's a necessary evil.

    3. Ugh, I hate car shopping too. But hey, it'll be nice to drive a newer car, though, right? Good luck!

  4. Oh, thank you, Nathalie! You are too kind! Yum! Cinnamon roll! And you do know that I love the Panera bread, don't you? Excuse me while I wipe drool off my keyboard. :D

    Those are great pictures, even if the light wasn't quite what you would have liked it to have been. My favorite is that first picture of the anhinga camouflaged by the plants! It is perfect!

    Thank you for the link to the Game of Chairs! Too funny! I watched it a couple of times and then, I watched one about Furry Potter and the Goblet of Cookies and sent that link to my daughter! :D Love Sesame Street!

    Glad to hear that Greg reached his destination safely. Hope you don't miss him too much while he's gone. It's not good for your waistline and mine! :D

    1. I'm glad to provide some inspiration for your cravings, hahaha! Sesame Street is awesome. They had a French version of it, "Rue Sésame", that unfortunately replaced a very popular French children's show that I absolutely loved, so I hated it when I was growing up. But when I came here, I started watching it even before I had kids, and fell in love with all the characters. And once I had kids, I had the perfect excuse to watch it all the time :)
      Those parody videos are hysterical, aren't they?

  5. Your pictures turned out great, even though it was overcast. Don't worry about the ones that don't turn out. Some photographers have told me they delete up to 90% of their photos.

    I especially love the osprey photos - tack sharp! And those gators...they look well fed. You know, like they just ate a small child. I have a feeling you'll love Circle B Bar Reserve!

    1. Ha! That gator did look like he was pretty sleepy after a good meal! You can bike or hike alongside part of the Wildlife Drive and my daughter and I were saying that we were just happy driving it :)

      I have started to delete a lot of my own pictures. I used to keep all of them (and I still can't bring myself to delete any pictures when my kids are in them!) but this camera's photo files are larger so I need to cull the mediocre to bad ones for sure!


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